Football: Indonesia shrugs off FIFA suspension

Football: Indonesia shrugs off FIFA suspension

JAKARTA - The Indonesian government on Sunday said FIFA's decision to suspend it should not be "mourned excessively" and authorities were now focused on reforming the country's crisis-wracked football.

The ban, announced Saturday, means Indonesia cannot compete in world football and makes the national side ineligible for June matches that are qualifiers for both the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup.

The sports ministry, whose move to oust the Indonesian football association (PSSI) sparked the crisis, defended its actions and said the ban was "really not what we wanted".

But it added in a statement: "FIFA's sanction need not be mourned excessively."

"We must be confident and believe that if reform of national football can be done with full sincerity, consistency, transparency and with better governance, then achieving great performance will no longer be a dream." The government will take measures to restructure the system of national football management and will restart domestic tournaments, it added.

It urged the PSSI to view the sanctions "objectively and wisely" and called for "solidarity" to deal with the crisis.

The sports ministry has insisted that taking on the PSSI, which has long been dogged by allegations of corruption and mismanagement, was a necessary step to clean up Indonesian football, which has for years been beset by crises.

The latest row erupted in April when the PSSI halted the country's top-flight league due to a disagreement with the sports ministry over the participation of two clubs.

The ministry then froze all activities of the PSSI, and said it was setting up a transitional body as a step towards replacing the association.

FIFA, which takes a dim view of governments interfering in domestic associations, backed the PSSI, which insisted it remained in charge of football in Indonesia.

The governing body gave Jakarta until May 29 to allow the association to resume activities, or face a suspension.

A series of last-ditch efforts to resolve the row in the past week came to nothing and the sports ministry had even expressed hope that the corruption crisis engulfing FIFA might delay the sanction.

But at a meeting of FIFA's Executive Committee in Zurich on Saturday, the world governing body announced the ban, saying it was a result of the "effective 'take over' of the activities of the PSSI by the Indonesian authorities".

The PSSI was suspended from FIFA and Indonesia were banned from all international competitions organised by FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), one of six regional federations that make up FIFA.

However the national team will still be able to participate in the football tournament at the Southeast Asian Games, which is just getting under way in Singapore.

The suspension came as Indonesian football was only just recovering from a feud between the PSSI and a breakaway association, which led to the creation of two separate leagues.

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